Matsui Sakiko Album

Release Date: October 3, 2012

Track Listing

  1. Kokoro no Fumen
  2. Aitakatta
  3. Flying Get
  4. Utau Ketsueki ~Utsui Ken no Kaatsu Training no Theme~
  5. Everyday, Kachuusha
  6. Tamashi no Idou ~Gugutasu-Min no Theme~
  7. Beginner
  8. Ponytail to Shushu
  9. Heavy Rotation
  10. Sakura Ki ni Narou
  11. W.A. Mozart Piano Sonata NO. 18 K.576

Review

Matsui Sakiko is a member of the popular Japanese idol group AKB48. She also happens to be a technically sound pianist who is studying at the Tokyo Music College. Not surprisingly, she is majoring in piano performance.

Many who are familiar with AKB48 may have seen her once or twice performing piano intros for some of their songs at their stadium shows or maybe you’ve seen her on variety shows showing off her classical chops.

Obviously a piano instrumental album is not exactly what one would expect from an idol, especially one who is still fully active in their group. Most do this kind of thing after they leave or retire from the idol ranks to get away from their former image.

In this case that isn’t so. Instead there is a huge risk being taken by the performer and her label. I don’t mean to generalize but perhaps this type of album on paper does not appeal to the stereotypical AKB48 fanbase?

Lets do an exercise. When it comes to instrumental piano who immediately comes to mind?

Yanni

John Tesh

You definitely don’t think of a fine ass 20 year old Japanese idol right away do you? Admit it. You screamed “YANNI!” first right?

Matsui Sakiko

And lets get this out of the way because otherwise this comparison will hang like storm clouds over a picnic. Matching up the other fine ass 20 year old idol Mano Erina against Matsui Sakiko is unfair. Why? Because Mano hasn’t been given the chance to do anything like this.

Perhaps when she graduates from the confines of Hello! Project we’ll maybe see what she’s capable of on the piano. May I suggest the following title when that happens?

Mano Piano 2: I’ll try not to cry while covering H!P’s greatest hits.”

With that out of the way it’s time to get back on topic.

While this isn’t typical idol fare it’s something that those of you who might need a break from the bombardment of the same old same old should look into. You know, recharge those ears. There are a lot of covers of many of the popular AKB48 standards so it’s not like Matsui is abandoning ship here. She’s just putting a new twist on the familiar.

And that is what I like about this solo effort. There’s a little bit of flavor added to songs that have been put through the wringer. The best examples are the complete transformations of Flying Get and Heavy Rotation.

Flying Get starts off sounding like something you would hear in the background in Desperado as Antonio Banderas arrives with his guitar case of guns preparing to whoop ass in a hail of bullets.

It then evolves into a fusion of Jazz lounge and Spanish guitar that would be appropriate for an afternoon coffee at some frou frou cafe. Or maybe something that can be used on Dancing With The Stars when the pros get busy on the results shows.

If you’re Filipino, this rendition of the song is sure to get all the old folks breaking their hips and backs trying to Cha-Cha & Lambada away on the dance floor.

Heavy Rotation on the other hand is slowed way down to a lazy, chilled out Reggae groove. A complete 180 from the frantic, fun filled joy that is the original.

I really hope there is a live version of this planned for AKB’s next big concerts. Wouldn’t it be great to see the group all dressed Rastafarian style, toked up higher than that dude who jumped from space and falling all over each other doing the choreography with the mics?

Perhaps that’s just me. Regardless, both songs are given treatments I would have never imagined possible.

There are also songs that are played straight note for note with little improvisation such as Beginner and Sakura Ki ni Narou. Obviously you don’t really screw with an already pretty arrangement for the latter song. The former is the more interesting since it isn’t exactly a track one would expect to be something to be translated to the piano.

But it works and you can feel the intensity levels rise as the song progresses, much like the original. The only thing I didn’t like was Matsui’s rather weak, “In your position. Set!”

The one song on this album that I think most people will skip is probably Tamashi no Idou because it simply isn’t mainstream friendly at all. But I found its tribal rhythm and dark overtones to be rather refreshing.

To me, it felt like something I would hear from the soundtrack of one of the Ghost In The Shell anime. That’s probably an acquired taste for most people, but if you’re down with that then you’ll probably enjoy this track a lot.

Overall I felt it was a pretty ballsy move by AKS to put out an album like this. Perhaps they feel they can get away with the odd curve ball while they’re at their height without too many repercussions? Whatever the reason I have to give them and Matsui some props for even doing this.

I don’t know how successful Kokyuu Suru Piano will be in the long run but if you’re open minded enough to give some left field idol related music a try you’re in for a real treat.

Kokyuu Suru Piano

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